Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center


  • Saved $32,000 over two years, after implementing HeartCode BLS, both in terms of training costs and staffing costs during time spent in training
  • Gained scheduling flexibility for meeting certification needs of staff with varying schedules and availability
  • Received very positive evaluations from staff on the new BLS skills recertification system
  • Transformed the manual registration and tracking process, saving education department staff’s time
  • Eliminated the unnecessary expense of half-empty classrooms being taught by expensive instructors
  • Identified staff with low levels of computer skills proficiency who could benefit from additional training


Certification on Basic Life Support (BLS) from the American Heart Association (AHA) is a requirement for all RNs at Boston Medical Center (BMC). Prior to the implementation of HeartCode BLS, BMC’s nursing education department did recertification for approximately 1,300 nurses every two years. To meet this need, BMC offered 66 classes over the two year period, with four instructors for every class, and registration by telephone. They tracked expiration dates in the HealthStream Learning Center. Staff had the option to attend outside AHA courses and get reimbursed. Not only did BMC struggle to staff classes, but often attendees would register, the class would fill, then they would turn away other staff, and still there were many no-shows. At times BMC was paying BLS instructors to teach half-empty classes, while paying RNs their hourly wage for the three-hour class. Another issue was the need for diverse class times to accommodate staff who work per-diem, part time, and off-shifts. They started looking at online options and were excited that HealthStream had a HeartCode course. BMC was already using HealthStream for online education and explored using HeartCode to meet certification needs.


BMC decided to adopt the HeartCode Online Portion, delivered via HealthStream. The American Heart Association was already the organization’s standard for CPR, and their having developed this program made this choice a natural one. The HeartCode Hands-On Sessions were not implemented, however, due to space issues. To implement HeartCode BLS, BMC ran a report to see how many people were delinquent and in order to estimate the future need for recertifying people. They divided the staff into two groups, based on Provider card expiration date, which created a December group and a May group. BMC now offers three 12-hour skills days twice a year. Staff takes the online course during work prior to coming to class. If they can't get that done, they must make arrangements to do it after work hours. Staff then comes to the training class for an hour to demonstrate their skills. Once staff opens the course they have 30 days to complete the Hands-On skills component. Anticipating issues, BMC was very specific on notifications to staff that they should open the course only if they are able to attend a skills session. Otherwise, they would need to go elsewhere for CPR recertification. Staff could sign up for skills or just drop in—BMC set up stations, and the process took less than an hour. According to Meg Grande, MS, RNC; Boston Medical Center, “Not only have we saved money but the staff evaluation of the new system has been overwhelmingly positive.” They implemented this quickly over the course of the year as they already had a process in place (an assignment made for BLS to staff); it was really an easy process.


The savings from this project were $32,000 over two years; more importantly the staff and trainers love the new system. BMC’s compliance has improved as they only need to review it twice a year instead of monthly. Staff does not need to be paid, nor do they have to leave their floors short-staffed when they come in for an extra four hours of training. Staff actually are learning more as they can spend more time concentrating on retaining the skills, not worrying about the test. It has been an improvement for staff with time constraints, as they can do the online portion when it is convenient and stop by the skills center before, during, or after their shifts. The staff also appreciates the ability to complete the test at their own pace and the opportunity to review areas they may have difficulty understanding. BMC also found that those with below average computer skills have difficulty with the online portion and spend too much time doing it. This is a hidden benefit enabling the organization to identify staff who would benefit from improved computer capabilities. The education department is putting the saved time to good use on other projects. Grande closes by sharing that “HeartCode is truly a lifesaver for our department!”

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